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Monday, May 14, 2012

Week 3 (2009): Hmmmmm...

Under Pressure.
Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you no man ask for
Under pressure - that burns a building down
Splits a family in two...
Puts people on streets.

And thus, entering yesterday’s game Charlie faced what had to be the biggest, ‘must win’ game of his life. Against a team that hadn’t lost in SB since 1993… “What me worry?”  Get used to it, Charlie. And here’s how the day played out – or my recollection of it. (Thank you, dear wife, for playing designated driver.)

Tailgata-palooza.  The day was a carbon copy of the idyllic Nevada game clime, with a veritable armada of cars making up the A Lot blockade: Behrens – Belknap – Castellini – Rasmus – Flaherty the Younger -  Friend ‘o Lini Whose Name I Can’t Recall… and Peter a latter day Renaissance Man equally adept with spatula and Bloody Mary horseradish… Jimmy Flaherty representing the family’s tailgating honor…  Tim “call me Adonis” Castellini holding court… the irrepressible Carnevale brothers demonstrating personality and manners any parent would kill for… more food than could’ve been eaten in two games. And young Terry discovering the joys of parking on the Burke golf course - bringing back memories of sophomore year when I drunkenly confused said grounds for a giant game preserve – ah, those were good times.

St. Jimmy. Just like last week when we’ve collectively recognized Armando’s development, I’m here to say “let’s give it up for Jimmy.” They don’t win yesterday without him. And enough already with questioning his leadership – the kid looked pretty freaking tough. If he didn’t already, I gotta believe he’s now won over everybody in that locker room. Post-injury, two touchdowns he doesn’t get credit for (officiating, horrific Tate drop) while never putting his team in a bad position.  My game ball goes to him.

Kyle. I must confess that before this year, my favorite Kyle existed in the mythical town of South Park, CO, the young lad who famously said, “Dude, Cartman, look! Your mom is on the cover of Crack Whore magazine…”

But he’s not my favorite Kyle any more – that would be a tie between McCarthy and Rudolph. And not just because the former saved the game and the latter is going to become Jimmy’s new best friend with Floyd out.  They’re both fundamentally sound and just always seem to be clutch.

Golden?  “Uh, more like gold flake with something… duller underneath.”  Here’s my big fear:  Golden without Michael Floyd = Devin Hester; a fairly single dimensional speedster who is still learning the WR position… he doesn’t seem to aggressively go up for balls. concentration lapses at critical times (including another bad bad bad drop of a sure TD that would’ve made the game 30-17 and breaking off a route that almost cost us the game)… And did everyone see him run smack into Armando on that final wildcat play? After having run the play a dozen times already… how does that happen - the play was right fucking in front of you.

2nd / 3rd WR.  Someone better step up immediately – and with all due respect to our esteemed St. Ignatius alum, I’m hoping it’s someone other than Robbie Parris. This mystified me a bit yesterday:  no significant sign of Shaqelle Evans. He was good enough to be in on last week’s ‘make or break’ play – but not yesterday after Floyd goes down. And haven’t we been hearing about Goodman…

Well it’s time for someone’s close up, Mr. DeMille.

“I knew Herman Obert and you’re no Herman, coach Tenuta”. When the season first started I likened Jon Tenuta to a modern day Herman Obert – I mean, didn’t we all – a guy who along with the Russian Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and American Robert H. Goddard, was one of the founding fathers of rocketry and astronautics.  But because Herman (front and center, below) was one of a slew of German scientists at the same time as that other rock star, Werner von Braun… no one remembers him. Which is understandable – first of all who could tell all those krauts apart – and besides, the younger, more dashing Dr. von Braun (2nd from the right, below) had a better publicist.

As an aside, this august collection of bona fide rocket scientists were gathered at a government facility in Huntsville, AL where my dad, a non-descript civil servant, worked with them. Probably the only time anything remotely complimentary was uttered about Alabama in the Corrigan household.

But I digress.

The point is coach Tenuta is not invisible like Herr Obert - precisely because his group isn’t living up to expectations.  The accusation of ‘one trick pony’ is being uttered. “All he can do is recklessly send people play after play.”  No scheming.  And therein lies the problem – is it lack of scheme or execution?  Honestly damned if I know. But what I see after 3 weeks is a little troubling:  teams run on us more times than not, we tackle (at best) inconsistently and our DB’s – who I thought were the strength of the unit – seem to play so far off the ball that even the slowest developing passes get completed. Do our guys naturally run into the other team’s blockers or is it a case of simply not disguising where the pressure is coming from? Whatever happened to Mr. Lock Down, Darrin Walls or Robert “FIGJAM” Blanton…

At any rate, somehow at least 2 of those 3 need to get fixed.

The officials.  No game ever has 100% perfect calls but – and this is not a rhetorical question:  how do they blow the Michael Floyd non-TD catch?  The ref was standing point blank in front of him. How does that review not start as being a catch. Simply unfathomable. 

Hindsight Exercise of the Week.  If you knew at the start of the year that you were going to leave September with a 3-1 record with the loss occurring against a Michigan team in a close game, you’d probably view it as relatively acceptable, even if you didn’t like it. But the way this is turning out – other than the fact we’d probably all like to have the wins reversed, it’s not feeling so ‘acceptable’.

Glass ‘half full’ observations
a)     They came out very strong in the 3rd quarter.  (As an aside, it was a weird game with all the ebb and flows of point streaks by each team.)
b)    O-line. Most consistent blocking I’ve seen from them in several years.  The pressures on Jimmy were largely blitzes that weren’t picked up (“I'm talking about you, Jonas”) by the backs.
c)     Charlie called a pretty creative game in the face of Jimmy being hurt and Michael being out.
d)    The team didn’t collapse – in fact found a way to win. 2nd week in a row that they had to play all 60 minutes – that has to help ‘em, right?
e)     Tausch’s 47 yd. FG was a bi-section of the goal posts.
f)     Some significant recruits saw incredible South Bend weather, an exciting win and a lot of spirit.  Now I’m never sure how much it matters – remember T’eo came last year for the Syracuse game – but it certainly can’t hurt.
g)    For all the grief that Charlie takes for his past ego-based sins, does anyone notice how polite he is with the on-field interviewing? Now I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that the NBC sideline reporter is a total babe but still, give Chuck some credit for improved PR skills.

Schadenfreude winnerUSC!  USC! When-oh-when is Pete Carroll going to get his just recognition as the coach who does less with more than anyone else in America?  Honorable mention (for the week): Jay “I threw 4 picks but it could’ve easily been 6” Cutler. Have fun today with a Steeler team who really knows how to play the 3-4.

Jerry and his 11 wins are still alive in the pool.
Not dead yet. 

Other unlikely occurrences (beyond Jerry winning the bet).  
Lisa Minnella and Judy Castellini actually in the stadium.  Wow. 

Laverne & Jeffrey?  Apropos to absolutely nothing related to ND football, I read last week that The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported police had arrested a suspect in connection with the killings of seven women, including six suspected prostitutes, over a 21 year period that started in 1986*. The paper reported that a 49 yr old Milwaukee man was arrested Sunday. 

Ed Gein... Jeffrey Dahmer... this guy... what is it about Wisconsin and serial killers? 

*The Packers were 4-12 that year. Coincidence? I think not.

Atta boy, Jerome. Props to Cincotta for using Pyrrhic victory correctly in a sentence this week. I’ve never been more proud of you.

Insanity laughs under pressure we're cracking
Can't we give ourselves one more chance?

One more chance indeed.

Basically, living to fight another day.

That’s what this season is going to be, all year long.  Charlie will continue to be judged in the court of public opinion so unfortunately for him, style points matter. And yesterday’s performance by the defense isn’t going to help him much.

Onward to West Lafayette next week and your intrepid reporter will be there.

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